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Feds: State to take down ‘I Love NY’ signs next month

One of the controversial blue and white New

One of the controversial blue and white New York State tourism signs, on the Meadowbrook Parkway in Freeport. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Next month, the state will begin taking down the more than 500 “I Love NY” signs that have drawn their share of haters since going up on Long Island and elsewhere, a federal official said Monday.

“NYSDOT will begin removing the signs next month,” Federal Highway Administration spokesman Doug Hecox said Monday, referring to the state Department of Transportation. He added that the work was originally scheduled for March but was delayed because of snowstorms.

However, DOT spokesman Joe Morrissey on Monday declined to discuss the signs’ future, except to say no “immediate” plans had been made as the agency continues talks with the Highway Administration to “identify the best possible resolution to this matter.”

The sign removal would potentially end a controversy dating back to 2013 when the Highway Administration denied the state’s request to put them up and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the next year that the sign campaign was starting anyway.

But there may be other bumps in the road ahead.

DOT officials had earlier said new signs may be part of a new tourism campaign — a move that may draw the attention of federal officials who said the original signs were illegal. They said the signs didn’t adhere to laws requiring such markers provide navigational information to motorists and they contained too much information, distracting drivers.

Local officials and residents also said the blue and white signs were “ugly” and “useless” and ruined the aesthetics of the landscape and they may not take kindly to replacements.

On Long Island, where 144 of the 514 signs were placed at a total cost of $8.1 million, the markers can be found in locations such as the Meadowbrook, Wantagh and Northern State parkways, the Long Island Expressway, Jones Beach, Long Island MacArthur Airport and on local streets in Montauk, Port Jefferson and Orient.

Some of the signs in Montauk, Port Jefferson and Orient were taken down by the DOT last year in response to complaints.

DOT officials announced on Feb. 2 that all of the remaining signs would be taken down to make way for a new tourism campaign and signage — a day after Highway Administration acting Administrator Brandye Hendrickson sent a letter to DOT and New York State Thruway Authority officials, saying the federal government would withhold an estimated $14 million from the nearly $1 billion it gives New York annually for bridge and highway improvements.

Hendrickson said the $14 million would be reinstated if the state complied by Sept. 30.

Federal officials have said that any new signs would still need the approval of the Highway Administration.

State officials, who maintained the “I Love NY” signs were not illegal, said the new campaign will launch for this summer and be called, “NY has it all!”

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